Here is a movie I had never heard of before. I recognized the names of two members of the cast, Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint, but that was it. I had no idea what the story was about and didn’t even know the film existed until I started on this mission to see all the movies on Yahoo’s list. So, on to the big question:
Should this film be considered a classic? Without a doubt. “On The Waterfront” was the “Return of The King” of it’s day. The movie snagged eight Academy Awards after being nominated for twelve. Unlike ROTK which made most its Oscar haul on the technical trophies, “Waterfront” won for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress as well as Director, Best Picture, and more. Not very many films can claim that kind of award pedigree, but that is not the only reason this film is a classic. The film is based on true events. I watched it without knowing that fact but the filmmakers did such an outstanding job with casting, set design, and story telling that I had the thought running through my mind that this film had to have some grounding in reality. I was also very impressed with the performances of all the supporting cast. You would be hard pressed to find a weak acting link in the entire film. I especially enjoyed the performance of Karl Malden as Father Barry. His portrayal of a Godly priest who was not afraid to stand up to the mob friendly union bosses who were harassing and killing his congregation was a nice reminder that Hollywood hasn’t always treated Christians like wild-eyed fanatics.
Would I own this film? Yes, I would. This is a truly enjoyable film to watch. It is well paced, well directed, and well acted. Plus, you come away from it feeling like you watched a little bit of what life was really like for some people in the middle of the twentieth century. I also think I would buy this film on the merits of the Father Barry storyline alone. I found myself glued to the screen whenever he appeared in a scene because of his portrayal as a man of God who was willing to go where his people were and be involved in their lives even when it would have been easier to sit back and ignore everything that was going on. If you get a chance to see this movie, do it. You won’t be disappointed.